Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wonderful Orphanage program!

Yesterday was the long anticipated program at the area orphanage. (where James teaches a weekly English lesson) I think James, Micah, Megan, Rachel & David and the other 7 youth that performed had as much fun as the children! There has been a young man Anatolli coming to the Bible studies for over a year. He had grown up in this orphanage and told James how special it was to be a part of giving gifts to the children. They did a very funny skit about the *elves* getting ready.. complete with shaving, brushing teeth, styling their hair etc. James said the teachers were laughing harder than the children and really seemed to enjoy the entire program.

Then James and Alona came out dressed as the traditional Father Christmas and Winter Princess. James said he had never done a program before where he sensed God really speaking to hearts as he spoke - He was able to share the entire Gospel from Adam and Eve to redemption through Jesus Christ. Pray for these precious children to personally know Jesus Christ.
Handing out the presents

Micah said she was ready to take this little girl home with her. I so love this picture - the orphanage director had told the children not to open their presents until they got back to their rooms.. but as you can see this little sweetie just couldn't help peeking.

to your left stands Rachel, David, Micah & Megan with a group of boys that wanted their picture taken for Christmas.

Please be praying for James, Andrei, Micah & Megan as we have a very, very busy week ahead. We have the names & addresses of over 100 families given to us by the city Administration. They'll be personally visiting each family and giving them a food basket, Bible and other gifts. Pray that Christ will be glorified here in Nara-Faminsk. And in case I don't get on here again.. Have a WONDERFUL celebration of our Savior's Birth!! Much love to all...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The new teachers in town!

The last two days Micah and Megan have been teaching English classes at the local school. What a fantastic opportunity!! All the classes from 11th grade down to 4th grade. Last night a group of students invited them to the local pizza place.. Micah said two of the youth asked questions for 45 minutes about the Bible, Jesus Christ and what they believed. Tonight one new girl Katya came to the Bible study after Micah & Megan taught in her class. And already most of the classes have said 'we heard about the English camp you did last summer.. we're coming next summer!' Please keep praying as the Christmas/New Year's Holidays are a wonderful time to share with people.

Micah in the center, Megan far right

Monday, December 10, 2007

The FL girls are coming!

Please note the box at the right-hand corner -------->

Instead of having to visit our blog on the internet you can now simply type in your e-mail address and every update will be sent automatically to your e-mail account. How's that for convenient! So PLEASE make sure and type in your e-mail address. (and many thanks to my computer brilliant friend Phyllis for her help!)

Please pray for our dear friends Micah & Megan as they board a plane in just a few hours to fly over and help out with the busy Christmas/New Year's ministries. Pray they have no *adventures* and stay healthy. They are such a huge help & blessings!!

We have very talented children...:)

And since life is all about learning something new.. I was quite amazed this morning to learn that it is possible for a two year old to eat an entire bowl of cream of wheat with a pair of chopsticks. And since I would not have believed it had I not seen with my own two eyes.. here is the pictorial proof...Please note the *stick and lick* technique.
We are studying China right now in school so James stopped at a Chinese restaurant and brought chop sticks home for everyone. If you really want to add entertainment to your evening meal pick up some free chop sticks... it's downright hilarious to watch a 4 year old eat peas with chop sticks... or as he calls them "chop-chops" :)

Happy Birthday Rachel!

I can NOT believe we have a NINE year old daughter!?!! It seems like yesterday precious Rachel came into our lives. We had a wonderful time celebrating the gift of her life.
We have a tradition that the birthday person makes their own cake.. Rachel made a 9 layer cake with white chocolate and strawberries in between - and yes it was as good as it sounds!
With her guests singing to her. And afterwards everyone went outside and had our dog Snowflake pull them on the sled.
I love you Rachel and am so proud of the loving, kind, amazing person you are! As James often says, 'what would this family do without Rachel?' We all think you're the GREATEST!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Adventure in Tajikistan

I have oft told James he should have his own reality TV show.. I mean seriously the stuff that happens to him on a regular basis. Weeks ago James phoned the Tajikistan Embassy in Moscow to ask about visa regulations. He was told since he was only staying 6 days he only needed his American passport and he could buy a visa at the airport once he landed in Tajikistan. James asked several times, 'You're sure I don't need a letter of invitation or any other document?' Nope nothing at all, just buy it at the airport when you arrive. (we've done this before when we went to Turkey). So James landed in Tajikistan, filled out the paperwork for a visa and headed toward customs. The customs official looked at his passport and asked 'where is your letter of invitation??' James explained what he was told by the Tajik Embassy. Nope you have to have a letter written by a citizen of Tajikistan. James was led to a room off to the side while his friend Costya ran to write out a letter of invitation. Wanting to be *official* Costya decided to get the Dushanbe's Baptist Church stationary and wrote the letter saying the church had invited James. When the Customs official read that 'no way, you're not entering our country.' No if, ands, or further pleading... So James ended up spending the next 16 hours in a little cement room with no heat, looking out the window at the beautiful snow covered mountains of Tajikistan. No food, no water, no toilet, not even a chair or pillow - nothing but cement walls.. he said it was a very *prison* experience. :) The next morning he was finally allowed back into the main part of the airport to wait for the next plane back to Moscow. (those hard molded plastic chairs never felt so good!!) So we have no idea why God put a love and interest in our hearts for the country of Tajikistan. It seems at least for our personal family this is a closed door. James said from what he saw and experienced first hand this would not be a country to take your family to live long term. But if nothing else this trip has made us more aware of what the Christians in this country experience daily. What a reminder to pray!

And since the past few days it seems we've had constant frustration, irritations, problems and the like.. I thought I'd end on a lighter note.. Tonight while reading about Abraham and the verse 'I will bless those who bless you..' Caleb piped up 'What does blessed mean?' David answered in his most authoritative voice, 'You know, you are blessed when you don't get the hiccups.' So to all those who love and pray for us.. Be Blessed! :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A little Geography Quiz

1. What country borders Afghanistan to the North?
2. What country has been inhabited continually since 4,000BC, having the Persian and Aryan Empires?
3. What country did James leave for this morning to visit for the next 6 days?

*****and the answer is *****

TAJIKISTAN - meaning in the Persian language 'Land of the Tajiks'. We have long been interested in the Tajik people; many of whom travel to Moscow to work and send the earnings back to their families. A few months ago a good friend Costya asked James about coming to open a Youth Center/Camp in Tajikistan. Costya grew up in Tajikistan but has spent the last several years in Moscow attending Seminary. He had planned to return to Tajikistan and start a drug rehabilitation center. As we have prayed and wondered why this invitation would fall in our laps... we felt led to pursue the opportunity. So this morning James boarded a plane to fly to Dushanbe, Tajikistan to spend a few days visiting the people, culture and the needs of the country. We have no idea what the future holds... it may be James will go down in August and run an English camp... or our whole family will move down there :).. or we may just try to help financially to assist Costya in opening a drug rehab center. Pray for protection for James, wisdom in ALL things, and pray for the people of Tajikistan. Oh and pray for the lonely Beairds that are missing a certain wonderful man tonight! And don't worry I'll post lots of pictures when he returns.. I can't wait to see myself. And if you want to do some very interesting reading.. google Tajikistan :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Just for fun...

It's been a good, busy week here.. we finally got some more snow and the kids have loved sliding down hills and having snow battles. It's snowing as I write and I always seem to forget how beautiful and peaceful it is to watch those big flakes fall out of nowhere... I also seem to forget the logistical nightmare of getting four children into snowsuits & boots - heh! The shutter on our camera decided to break so no pictures.. so I thought I'd post some that a friend sent - we thought them very funny and have seen many similar sights but you never want to whip out your camera and appear to be a *tourist* :) So here's a few glimpses of Russia..

This one really made us laugh.. we have this *exact* same red car we use for summer camp.. in almost the same condition :)
Here's some random things heard around our house the last few days.. I keep telling myself I have to start writing things down - the kids are so funny right now...
**Caleb praying the night after he got his cast off:
'Dear God please help me to break my arm so I can go to McDonald's with Daddy' (James had taken him to get an ice cream cone at McDonald's after he got the cast off)
**Caleb: Mommy how old are you?
M: 36
Caleb with eyes as round as saucers: 'Mommy you are SO OLD!!!! Are you gonna die tomorrow???'
**David: Mommy, would you rather have lived with the Romans or the Phoenicians??
M: very distracted .. 'ummm I'm not sure honey'
David: I would have rather lived with the Phoenicians because I think their aquaduct system was vastly superior' (I'm thinking to myself where in the world did he pick up 'vastly superior'???? and also I have no idea how to even spell Phoenicians!!! :))
**David: Mom after supper are you gonna read the catacalizmic book?
M: you mean the catachism??
David: oh yeah that thing
**Johanna was walking down the road when a sweet Grandmother stopped and asked her 'Kak Tebya Zavoot' (what is your name?). She smiled back and yelled out "SHLOPA" - which is James' pet name for her, sorta the Russian equivalent to "sweetie pie".. to which the Grandmother laughed & laughed. Johanna now goes around the house saying 'my name SHLOPA.. my name SHLOPA.. my name SHLOPA'
Remember a merry heart is good medicine.. this is especially important when one begins to get SO OLD! :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Caleb Update: HOORAY!

Thanks for praying for Caleb! He got his cast of Tuesday and the Dr. said it was completely healed and was straight and strong. Here's a picture of the wounded soldier... (think he could use a haircut??? :)
James came home while they were making biscuits for supper and was quite amused by 'the one-armed biscuit maker.' I'm telling you when it comes to biscuits and rice pudding these guys are the BEST!! I keep telling them one day they can open their own cafe and call it the "Beaird Boyz Biscuits" - of course hopefully when they're grown the food they're preparing won't be in such close proximity to their feet.... :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Johanna Joy turns TWO!

I still can't believe our *baby* is a big TWO year old! We had so much fun celebrating our JOY-giver's birthday. We played a few little games and then since Johanna's favorite thing is to dance, we put on some cowboy music and promenaded around. I can't put into words the amount of joy and happiness Johanna has brought into our lives. Thank you Heavenly Father for this precious gift!
I tried & tried and could not get a good picture.. she was so cute holding her skirt and twirling, twirling, twirling
With her two adopted big sisters Svieta & Olya.. and believe it or not Caleb is happy in this picture :) (look closely and you can see his tonsils!)
In our family we take blowing out candles very, very seriously
Yummmmm! Tell me again why Mommy never lets me have this stuff?
And this is for that certain someone who says there is never a picture of me on the blog... happy now?? Although I have to say this picture of Johanna reminds me of the one of myself on my 2nd birthday.. except I had my mouth open and was screaming my lungs out.. and I had four times the amount of hair..

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Please pray for Caleb

Please pray for Caleb the Conqueror.. he fell and broke both bones about an inch above his left wrist. We are very, very thankful that it was a clean break and should only require a cast for two weeks. Pray that it heals quickly, straight & strong. I've always loved the verse that God knits us together in the womb so I'm praying He will just *knit* these bones together. Our lives are just so dull and boring we needed a little extra excitement. :)

Another matter for prayer is a new visa law that was passed Oct. 4th. Here's an exerpt from the English Moscow Times:

The government is tightening the screws on foreigners who want to work here full time without a work visa -- and itinerant English teachers look likely to be the first to feel the squeeze.
Multiple-entry business visas, which used to let foreigners stay in Russia for up to one year, will now only allow stays of up to 90 days at a time, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov on Oct. 4.
Under the new rules, such visas will still last one year. But they will only let people stay in Russia for up to 180 days of that year, and for no longer than 90 days at a time. Moreover, if a foreigner stays in Russia for 90 days straight, he or she is then required to leave and not come back until another 90 days have passed.
Zubkov's decree also says foreigners might have to obtain the visas in their native countries -- which implies that U.S. and British expatriates could no longer hop on the train to Kiev for a visa run. But representatives of visa agencies and foreign business lobbies were unsure how that rule would be implemented, and some said it might not apply to Westerners.
What is clear, however, is that expats can no longer stay in Russia endlessly by obtaining multiple-entry business visas and renewing them each year, said Alexei Filippenkov, director of the Visa Delight agency.
(^^this is exactly what we've done for the past 10 years)

"Now, any foreigner who wants to come live here has to either go through the immigration process, and eventually obtain a residence permit, or else find an employer who will prepare a work visa for them," Filippenkov said.

There is a very good chance we will have to leave the country by January 4th and stay out at least 90 days before re-entering. We are going to start down the document trail to obtain a residence permit.. but we've heard this is about as difficult as adopting (document wise) .. so should be fun fun - like I said before our lives are just way too dull & boring....heh!

Fall pictures

We have a tradition every September to dress up and do a family picture and individual *school* pictures of the kids.. this year unfortunately my friend with the great camera was gone on vacation.. so no family pictures, but some sweet ones of the kids.
Our precious 8 year old Rachel
With her beloved cat Chocolate
A note of explanation as to why David looks like a Russian army conscript.. one day during school David was in the bathroom for quite a long time.. I finally went to knock on the door - David emerged with large chunks of his hair cut down to the scalp.. I asked him why he decided to cut his hair to which he confidently answered 'because it needed cut.' So we just buzzed him :) After a half dozen of David's famous frozen smile pictures I told him to 'just relax, act natural and don't actually smile' ........
AHHHHHH so much better!! Actually I love this picture because I imagine this is what a certain 6 year old James Dean looked like most of the time.
Battle-scarred Caleb
I so want to get a shirt for Caleb that says 'I was born tough'... seriously this kid is one of a kind - all he talks about is getting 'big muscles'. The other day we were out for a picnic and as a special treat I bought a chocolate bar to divide.. when I handed Caleb his little square he asked me if chocolate had sugar in it.. 'yes' .. then he asked does it have protein in it?? 'hmm not really' to which he declared he didn't want the chocolate because it wouldn't build *BIG muscles*. I think there's just a little tiny bit of his Uncle Matt in there somewhere...
I got Johanna all dressed up in white tights and shirt, beautiful bow in her hair and whilst distracted for 5 minutes turned around to find her happily filthly playing in the sandbox...
Who needs hair bows to look cute??!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

catchin' up...

Sorry it's been forever.. here's some fast, rambling happenings of the last month:

*'Zhatva' - the big Russian harvest celebration was celebrated September 9th. One of my favorite holidays over here as it always coincides with the leaves being at their height and getting the last vegetables out of the garden. (I mean come on in November we're thinking about ice skating more than pumpkins :) We had a big feast after church and enjoyed the fellowship and gorgeous sunny fall day. We had two guests - one a man that just got out of prison and has been living in a tent in the woods. The other Colya a young man from Turkmenistan. Colya works at the local internet office and as our internet is forever not working he has been out to our house several times. Was great to see him finally come to church! Pray he continues.. he had so many questions about the Bible he has been reading.

*The start of school meant James could resume teaching a class at the orphanage. He was a little disappointed to discover they completely changed who lives at the orphanage; now instead of the older students he had worked with for the past two years he has a room full of younger children ages 9-10. Pray these classes continue to go well.

*Apples - my month in a word.. we have 7 apple trees that had the biggest harvest I have ever seen! We made apple butter, sauce, juice, cobblers, cut up apples to freeze and 12 liters of apple cider vinegar... actually I'm not sure what I made ask me in a couple of weeks - it's either vinegar or hard cider :) I told Rachel she could made a cobbler every day if she gathered the apples and did everything herself. On about the 5th straight dinner of enjoying cobbler and ice cream she let out a contented sigh 'this is the life!'... I have to agree, I LOVE the fall!

*School begins! - well actually we did little bits and pieces all summer.. I now have a 3rd grader, 1st grader and the most enthusiastic preschooler I've ever seen. We are still having trouble understanding Caleb's speech but he loves sitting at his desk cutting, counting, coloring and doing anything I call *school*.

*Bible Studies - Pray for James on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday. Also our friend Lena began a Bible study at her apartment on Saturdays. On Friday nights they have a game night with a short Bible lesson especially for unbelievers.

*Snow - supposedly this weekend, the kids are wild with excitement. The morning after Johanna's birthday (which was Sunday, I'll post more later w/pictures) we heard the boys up at 5:00am running around upstairs. James went to investigate and found them at the window looking for snow. James told them there was no snow and get back in bed.. David replied 'but MOM SAID there would be snow after Johanna's birthday.' It is vital to remember that kids take everything you say literally. How did someone who hates to be cold give birth to polar bear children???!?

Thanks to all for your love and prayers. Hope you're enjoying a wondrous autumn and praising Him for the harvest!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The big 10!!

Ten years ago yesterday a younger James and a lighter Susan vowed before God and our families to love, cherish, honor and respect. We decided back then that since we didn't do a huge honeymoon that for our 10th we were going to go all out and celebrate in Rome.. somewhere along the line we even had a special savings account for our big trip on our 10th anniversary. Well the reality of life is that no amount of $$ could entice someone to babysit our kids for 4 days - haha :) so after much thought we decided to celebrate with a trip to <dramatic pause> the Moscow ZOO! We loaded up the kids and off we went. I'm sure touring the ancient ruins does not compare to the joy of sitting in rush hour Moscow traffic singing 'Polly-wolly dooddle all the day' at the top of your lungs with four happy children. (gotta love Burl Ives!) One block from the Zoo the transmission completely went out on our minivan - please note: we just had the tranmission rebuilt.. it took them 6 weeks and we had the van back exactly 8 days before this happened.. grrrrr. (thankfully it's under warranty!) So James dropped us off at the Zoo while he began a 6 hour adventure of driving the van to the repair shop in first gear. The kids had a fantastic time petting a zebra, holding a boa constrictor, watching a dolphin show and spending hours with their faces pressed up against plexiglass. James finally returned and we headed for the metro - this was to become an epic adventure. Traveling with four children and a huge stroller on the circle brown line at the height of rush hour traffic can not be explained in words.. 1.8 million people ride the metro every day.. *crowded* is an understatement. We survived and made it to the train station. We got on the train and found seats - James, Rachel, David & Caleb on one side of the isle; Johanna and I on the other side. I was sitting directly across from an elderly gentlemen with thick glasses. Here is our conversation:
-are all these childen yours???!
-'no we thought it would be fun to rent them for the day' (actually I just said this in my mind, I smiled and just said 'yes')
-you are the mother of all four children??
-is that the Father?? (pointing at James)
-you and that man have four children???
-'yes we think it's pretty wonderful too'

I was sitting beside two other men who at this point leaned way over - both quite intoxicated - ARE THESE ALL YOUR CHILDEN???! Repeat of the above conversation. I do not consider four children a large family, but apparently in Russia we are right up there with the Duggers. Anyway, the elderly gentlemen was so sweet; he kept asking all sorts of questions and playing with Johanna who was in rare form - giving him sweet eyes, laughing, playing peek-a-boo, waving to him. He actually got out a piece of paper and pen and wrote me a letter (!!!) telling me how beautiful our children were and how wonderful it was to see a big family.. I was so touched. He finally got off waving to Johanna the entire time while she blew him kisses. Two ladies then sat down in his seat. By this time we had been on the train an hour and the natives were getting restless. David had his beloved pet rubber snake with him.. I looked over just in time to see him turned around in his seat engrossed in his make believe world... he had the snake about one inch away from the grandmother's neck behind him. Just then he lunged the snake forward scaring the poor lady half to death. (he didn't hit her at least!) She turned around to give him a half amused/half are you crazy look. I looked over at the two ladies across from me, they saw the whole thing and were laughing so hard one actually had tears running down her cheeks. In my distraction I then turned around to find Johanna razzing the Grandmother seated behind her and throwing grapes at the man two rows over - it was chaos. We finally made it home, threw the kids in the tub, fed them and got them to bed. I came downstairs to find James collapsed on the couch.. I collapsed on the other couch.
-Happy Anniversary Honey, I love you!
-Happy Anniversary, I love you too!
<loud snoring noise>
And that dear friends is how we celebrated our big 10th. As I lay in the quiet I thought back to my favorite part of our wedding; when we knelt and had our Fathers lay hands on and pray over us. I realized that everything they had asked for that day God in his faithfulness has answered. We have been blessed with children, spiritual children, financial provision, physical protection from accidents & injury. We have seen miracles and experienced God at work in our lives - we have seen him give peace, grace, mercy, wisdom and blessing. I write all this to say, Thank you God for 10 incredible years! I may not know what the future holds, but I do know that between James and four energetic children I will never be bored and quite often sleep deprived. And I know that our Faithful God will be with us for the next decade.. and 'til death us do part.'

Friday, August 17, 2007


James' surgery went super! They were able to do the 'no cut' arthroscopic surgery (that's loosely translated... prolly better technical term?) anyway, the Dr. said everything looked great and James should be up and WALKING in 3-4 days. Amazing what moderm medicine can do as James hasn't been able to bear weight or even straighten his leg for almost 3 weeks! Thanks so much for your prayers. Hoorah it's over!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

James Update

James went to see the surgeon yesterday and finally got some good news.. they were able to squeeze him in for surgery tomorrow morning!! Huge praise as the entire hospital is being shut down for renovations next week. Please pray for James as his surgery is at 8:00am Friday morning.. if anyone has insomnia tonight that's midnight EST - you can stay awake and pray! :) Thanks so much for your love and prayers!
Saturday we celebrated our big boy Caleb's 4th birthday! What a special celebration! Poor guy had all girls for the guest list, just like David. We had lots of fun playing water balloon games and the feed each other a banana blindfolded was a huge hit. I am so thankful God entrusted precious Caleb into our lives. I just know God has some very special plans for this little *fireball's* future.
Here's Johanna watching a game.. I was getting Johanna dressed for the party in her little pink & white sundress when Caleb walked in the bedroom... he let out a long 'ahhhhhhh' and then exclaimed 'Josie, you look sooooo boo-ti-FUL'. Made me happy that even though he's only 4 he recognizes true beauty! ;)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

one more thing...

I meant to add to the post below... Lovely Laura has some great pictures and write-up on her blog -

I enjoy her writings so much I keep wondering.. can you hire someone to write your own blog?? hmmmmm...

Please pray for our dear friend Lena. She's the very first person that got saved at camp four years ago and has been a real leader in the Bible studies. She had planned to help out with camp but then the beginning of July her Mom was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. She traveled with her Mom up north to a well know cancer center for some special treatments. Well early this morning James got a call from Lena at the airport... her Mother had passed away a few minutes after their plane landed. It was a huge shock as they did not think she was that weak. Please pray for Lena as this will be an extremely difficult time for her and her brother. Pray that we will know how to comfort and help out in whatever way we can.

Ohh and one more story whilst I'm typing.. After camp we had a huge *to do list* of things we had let slide while James was at camp; and then James hurt his knee so we slid further behind. Our sink needed fixed and James planned to do it himself but just couldn't with his knee.. he finally called a plumber who said he would send out his new assistant in the morning. The next morning 25 year old Colya arrived and started working on the sink. James sat on a chair nearby and started talking... before long Colya was telling how he grew up in an orphanage after his parents were killed in an accident when he was 5 year old. He suffered some terrible difficulties and was then sent to a military academy. He was selected to be in an elite sniper unit and sent off to Chechenya. As I sat listening to Colya & James talk for hours I suddenly realized that if James had not hurt his knee we would have never met up with Colya. Furthermore.. with all the many projects James had planned I seriously doubt he would have had an entire morning free to just sit on the deck and talk to this needy young man. What a great reminder it was for me to not let my endless projects and *to do* list get in the way of the one and most important thing.... people.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pray for James

I really should have posted this last week.. but our internet server kept going down. Anyway, a week ago Sunday James was playing basketball and hurt his knee. It's been an interesting week as we've run around trying to find a MRI machine and a Doctor. Part of the culture here is the *August vacation*.. the first 3 weeks in August everything comes to a grinding halt - here in our city they completely shut down the vodka factory and the large machine shop and everyone takes their summer vacation at the same time. Well this week we found out that all the Doctors take their vacations now too! We called and made an appointment.. drove to the city (our city of Nara-Faminsk doesn't have a MRI) and were then informed that the Doctor was 'on holiday.' We finally were able to hunt down a working MRI machine but then the technician just gave us his opinion - there was no Doctor available to consult with afterwards. Hmmm for some reason walking down the halls of a deserted hospital with only cats roaming around struck me as quite fascinating... if all the Doctors go on holiday that means no one gets sick.. right??! Note to self: don't get sick in Russia the first of August. After a week of frustration we finally found a Doctor to look at the MRI and we were told James will need surgery - the sooner the better. One huge praise was that it wasn't the major ACL ligament that was torn.. it was a smaller one and also there is a bone chipped off from his knee cap that is floating around causing pain & inflammation. We did finally track down a highly recommended surgeon that is actually working.. James has an appointment next Wednesday and hopefully the following week will have the arthroscopic surgery.

Well before the stream roller came through to flatten our lives - hehe! we actually had the most amazing Sunday. A singing group of youth from Nemchinovka Church came out to sing and join our Bible study. It was so great to see these grown up young people that James had been the Youth Pastor of waaayyy back in '98-99. What joy to hear of the Bible studies they are leading, the Universities they have graduated from and the sphere of influence God has given them in the city of Moscow. It was fun to think back to when they would come to our apartment every week and pass baby Rachel around on their laps... this time they ooohed & ahhed over Johanna. We also met the most amazing man David from Cameroon (he works at the Cameroon Embassy). David gave his testimony and our youth really seemed to enjoy the songs, sharing, & fellowship. Our David was completely taken with the 'African David' as he told him a bunch of snake and jungle stories.. it was too cute to watch. The best part was that three girls from the English camp came for the first time!! We were thrilled to see that the friendships developed over the camp had made them interested in the Bible studies. Pray they will keep coming.
Our house seems very empty, quiet & lonely after the wonderful young people we had here helping with camps. I still can't get over what a huge blessing they were to our lives.. and lots of others. We sure hope they can come again next summer... our entire city miss ya'll!! (Micah & Megan - the fruit lady keeps asking about you! :)
Oh and if anyone is interested Micah made a video of the Nemchinovka Church singing... click this link to view it on youtube.

I need to put more videos on the internet - gives you a little *window* into our world. Thanks to all for their prayers, love & concern.
Just had to include one more picture.. this young lady used to carry Rachel around at church when she was a baby. Also for anyone reading this that was at the MTC way back when.. to the left is Timothy Averken (Nicolai Epishin's nephew) and playing the guitar is Zhenya Popovich.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pictures from English Camp

Great is thy Faithfulness! I keep singing this today.. God has answered so many prayers this past week. The English camp went very, very well! James was very excited because almost every single person at the camp was a completely new contact - they had never been to a Bible study or even met us before. The American group arrived back at our house late last night; ate.. slept.. and immediately left again this morning. I did manage to fanagle one person to download a few pictures (thank you Laura!). In a few days I will post more pictures and details. Thank you again for your prayers for the Camp.
James was so glad that two sets of parents came out to the camp. These parents spent the whole day and made a meal for the group. And the family lives just 10 minutes away from us!! We had never met before but they talked with James for a long time asking him questions about God.
Please note Mike's gourmet flipping technique.. he needs to be guest chef on the cooking channel.

above and below are pictures of looking up Bibles verses in an English/Russian Bible and making bracelets.

The Chess Tournament of the Century!!

Jamie is six months pregnant and received the Hero Award as all the Russians were amazed she went camping. I think Mary Kay should use this picture for a marketing campaign.. Wherever life takes you.. you can always find a Mary Kay Consultant! Seriously though, the youth loved getting manicures in the middle of the woods.
Volleyball and Capture the Flag were the camp favoritesThe knife throwing was also a big hit
Everyone loved the crafts!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Please pray for the English Camp

Late Wednesday night the Texans arrived in Nara-Faminsk. Our van is broken so we had a friend pick them up at the airport.. a friend that can't speak a work of English. They said the ride from the airport was quite amusing.. they got out their little Russian phrase book and started asking questions... they concluded from their *conversation* that the driver was 38 years old and had no children - now I was amused because he's actually in his late 50's and has a son. :) They left the next morning for camp - please pray for this team - Mike, Jamie, Laura, Jon, Marcus & Rebekah and the group from Florida - Micah, Megan, Rebecca & John Michael. I talked to James briefly and he reported that camp was going great. The weather is wonderful - huge praise! There are also more than the first camp - I'm guessing around 45 people? (haven't heard the exact count). Please pray for wisdom, protection and the Holy Spirit to work in people's lives.

It's been very special for me to have these fantastic young people in our home. (well for a few hours/meals anyway). What a living example and influence for our young children to see up close. One young man Marcus came through the door for breakfast, scooped up Caleb and began playing with him... Caleb now adores Marcus and has asked every day when is he coming back. After breakfast while I frantically ran around making copies and last minute details I looked outside and there was Marcus and the boys playing baseball - just had to get a picture.
The night before James was gone so John Michael filled in as the *tickle Monster*

And since there's a Nana out there that loves cats.. thought I'd include a picture of our kitty. We got her a few weeks ago and the kids named her Fluffy. Today Rachel informed me she was no longer Fluffy because she had to have a Russian name... so let me introduce you to the latest member of our family.. Irena the cat.
And keep us here on the *homefront* in your prayers. Yesterday evening we were playing with friends in front of the house; Caleb got *tagged* by an older girl and fell backwards hitting his head on a rock. There was quite a bit of blood so the other Mother started screaming at the top of her lungs and called the ambulance. (hmmm I now consider myself in comparison the very *calmest* of Mommys :) Caleb was fine and greatly enjoyed the ambulance Dr. cleaning him up and telling him how tough he was. If I remember correctly this is the 5th time we've called the ambulance.. four of the times were for Caleb. I guess there's one in every family. The ambulance visits usually cost $2.00, but yesterday the Dr. wouldn't even take any money... if we ever leave Russia I will greatly, greatly miss the ambulance service!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Camp Pictures!

2007 will go down in history as the Camp of the Mud! I still haven't been able to sit down and talk with James for more than 10 minutes - he is busy running around trying to get our van running and things ready for the next English camp starting the 19th. He did however report that God did amazing things in people's lives. Five youth accepted Christ! The Bible studies went very well, and much truth from God's word was sown in these lives. God protected, gave grace, strength, wisdom and answered so many prayers! THANK YOU for praying!! Your love for these young people shown through your prayers, concern and giving is a huge blessing to us. I can't wait for one day in heaven to get to *introduce* you to some of these young people. 2 Thessalonians has been really special to me lately.. 'But the LORD is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the LORD concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. Now may the LORD direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.' God has shown himself so very faithful in the midst of many uncontrollable circumstances.. thank you Heavenly Father!

Megan said after the mud battle they ran down the hill into the lake to wash off.. she said it was like a re-enactment of the swine racing over the hill.. heh!

Rebecca waving from the camp bus

This picture of John Michael cracked me up.. quite an ingenius set-up he devised to dry his clothes over the campfire!

They found a hedgehog, which soon became the camp Mascot

Darlene the strawberry marshmellows were such a hit! Thanks again - I love this picture of Megan.

Chef James making his famous spaghetti... I really think he should open an Italian Cafe some day when we retire.

I saw this picture of Micah and promptly put *vegetable peeler* on my shopping list.. for the next camp at least she'll have something less dangerous looking

The World Championship of arm wrestling.. the Russians won!! :) Umm McCloy's if you see this better practice up...

Thank you Father for the opportunity to invest in people's lives for eternity!

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